Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Catching up: Nine in nine

Determined to make a proper attempt at reviving this blog. :)

So let's get up to speed: with a summary of what I have been up to since the last time I "shut down" this space, way back at the beginning of 2008. It's been exactly nine years today, so I thought it's fitting to post this - Of course I can't really cover everything, but here are the ones which really stood out.

And of course, you should also be warned that this WILL be a super long post (as much as I had declared it a "summary").

1. Seeing my best friends form their own families
Considering that most of my best friends are around my age, it was not surprising that one by one, they got hitched, and quite a handful of them also proceeded to procreate mini versions of themselves/their other halfs. Others who are less thus inclined, also had their furkids, whom I adore equally (and dare I say, more sometimes) to their human counterparts. It's a surreal feeling seeing the peeps who used to be my partners in crime back in school (or at home, since the sister is also one of my bestie!) commit their life to another person and form their own family unit. *cue sniffles* 

Is it odd that I don't feel lacking even though I haven't gone through any of these myself? On one hand, I admire them immensely for the people they have become, the sacrifices they have made and continue to make, but most importantly that radiance of happiness glowing from within them at having found their "tribe". That said, I am content where I am, my time for that will come eventually, or not. These people are part of my tribe, myself included, so I am never alone if I need someone to count on. 

2. Earning my keep: Job changes, learning politics (or not) and chasing dreams
Back in 2008, I was in civil service (kind of) doing corporate communications. Fast forward to 2017, I am in the private sector juggling business development and public relations (occasionally dabbling in some internal comms too). Is it different? Markedly so when you compare the pace, the (lack of) bureaucracy, and the industries. However, the essence of it still revolves around what I have identified as my professional interest, way back in high school, and I am glad to reflect that it's still what I enjoy doing the most. 

I am not shy to report that I have gone through 3 job changes (i.e this is my 3rd job after the position I held in 2008) - I never define myself as a job-hopper, simply because each time I decided to leave, it was with the clear rationalisation that I have exhausted my growth potential in the organisation I was in. As with my personal relationships, I will always try ways and means to work things out, but when the dust has settled and I conclude that any further effort is futile, it is time for me to make a move. And to the organisation I bid adieu, it's all done in good grace and thankfulness for all the opportunities I had been given. You can say it's a "It's not just you or me, but we just don't work anymore" scenario each time. 

Throughout the years, I have encountered various politics and learn reluctantly to "play" it when necessary. It will never be something I am comfortable with, but sometimes, I do have to concede that one needs to "rise above" and just do what it takes to get the job done, of course within your moral boundaries and principles. Push me anywhere beyond that and you can be sure I won't stoop to your level, but will stand my ground and defend my position with logic and a clear conscience. Thankfully I have not had to actually face any real moral dilemmas, so it's not as dramatic as it sounds, lah. But you get the gist. :p

3. Matters of the heart: Of toxic men, online dating and stable relationships
Of course this wouldn't be a proper summary without touching on the juicy parts. By now, if you don't know me in person, (and in that case I can't fathom how you would be reading this barely alive blog. but THANKS SO MUCH for the support!), you would have surmised that I am not happily married with a cat or tiny human that I clean up or run after. 

That is not to say I am not happy though! I am, very much so. Am also at this moment blissfully content with a significant other in a stable and loving relationship. :)

I hadn't always been though. Over the near-decade past, I had gone through some horrendous heartbreaks, but also experienced exhilarating loves, moments so sweet that my heart felt like it would burst from the fullness of it all. I also went through a bout of online dating and had immense fun being single - mainly from the freedom of calling the shots in all areas of my life (they don't call it "carefree" for no reason you will learn), before I got to where I am now. Let's just say for now that I've had my fair share of drama, and relished parts of it (if not, then the memories when I look back on those days), but it has taught me that whichever status you are in, enjoy it to the fullest, because.. that's the only way to live life to the max right? 

Um.. Apologies that I am so vague on this (very interesting) aspect, there is just too much details that I decided to go super broad instead. I promise to share more of these in greater detail in future. ;)

4. The social recluse: Tightening my circle of trust
I learn from quite a young age that I really only need a small group of close friends, although I do tend to fret over being nice and not standoffish to others. 

However, sometimes that is just not possible when your personal time gets increasingly scarce and precious, (or some people just don't get subtle rebuffs when you are not interested to join their seemingly fun but meaningless to you activities), and you just have to firmly say "I am really not interested" to them. Hopefully they don't take offense, but I have also come to terms that if they really do, it's frankly, not a big deal. (Gasp! Yes.)

And then there are also those people whom I used to hold closer to my heart, but have now kept at arm's length (at best). Perhaps we grew apart, perhaps there are other priorities more important to them now than our friendship, or perhaps I finally acknowledge that there is truly no intrinsic value to either party in maintaining the relationship. When that happens, I sigh a little, then leave the friendship to run its course (or die its natural death). Some of these may revive one day, who knows? (Just look at this blog, never say never! Haha). But for now, I guess it's best to just give each other space and freedom. 

Giving these friendships a wide berth may have cracked my heart a little, but it has brought me so much more in return, as I could then invest more of my precious time and attention on the smaller group who matter and stood the test of time. I only hope that I have for most part brought as much cheer and light to the lives of those who have given me so much, just from their friendship. 

5. Wanderlust-ing: Discovering the joy of travel

Let me preface this by saying, I am very aware that to be able to travel IS a privilege, and one that I don't take for granted. Also, as much as I love getting to traipse on foreign lands, exploring history and cultures that are different to my own, at the end of the day, does it really make that huge a difference to my character or quality of life? I'm not sure. However, I do know that it is one thing that I always look forward to, and the experience of being in another city or country, is just something that I will probably always find excitement in. I don't think less of anyone who travelled less, I am just glad that I could travel as much as I did. 

A quick recap of the places I have been in the past nine years: in Asia I could count Malaysia (Langkawi, KL), Indonesia (Bali, Jakarta, Bintan, Batam), Thailand (Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket), Japan (Tokyo),  Maldives, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China (Beijing); visited quite a far bit of Australia (Melbourne many many times, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane); a small portion of Europe counting UK (London), France (Paris, Bordeaux, Brittany), Italy (Milan) and most recently Luxembourg; a handful of cities in US (LA, New York, San Francisco, Monterrey, Orlando, Arizona; and last but not least Canada (Vancouver and Toronto). 

I loved every single one of these trips, some perhaps much more than others, simply from the sheer pleasure of being there. I also finally did a solo trip when I was in France last year, and it was AMAZING. As much as I do enjoy travelling with close ones, there is something so special about travelling alone, so you can be sure that it wouldn't be the last time I did that. 

6. Staying active: Loving a fit life
To be honest, I have never really been "inactive" in my life so far, although I would hardly go as far as to proclaim myself an athlete. I can run and swim alright, but hand-eye coordination is not my forte, so racket sports like badminton and table tennis were my worst nightmares during the physical education classes in school. Oddly, I do pretty well in basketball, probably cos it mainly involves running, passing and shooting, something I fare fine in (or maybe just because the ball is so big you can't exactly miss it, hurhur). I did enjoy the sports I do well, but it's only in the last decade that I truly fell in love with staying active. My regular regime now is 4-5 workouts per week if I could afford the time, but otherwise a minimum of 2-3 is mandatory to maintain sanity. 

Because I lack the discipline to focus on one or two sports, I enjoy a variety of exertions and would like to think that it keeps my life interesting, and also allows me more versatility in incorporating them into my schedule, depending on time available, weather or location. Whether it was jogging, swimming, yoga, rollerblading, gym or tennis, I love the endorphin rush and just being active. If I go for more than a week without my workouts, I feel out of sorts and sluggish. 

Beyond the adrenaline rush, it's also part of my quiet time, spending time with myself. Nothing beats listening to your own heartbeat, or getting into your zone while pushing those reps or clocking laps or miles. You learn to appreciate your own strength, and listen to your inner voice. Sounds skeptical? Don't beat it till you've tried it. ;)

7. Rediscovering a love: Dance, dance, dance!
Having always enjoyed dancing as a child (and ahem later in my clubbing years as an adolescent/young adult), I am so glad that I decided to venture into learning dance proper now that I have the financial means to support this interest. Salsa, cha cha, bachata, zouk, kizomba, even a teeny bit of contemporary - I have tried and enjoyed each of them. Amongst these, salsa and kizomba have stood out as ones I favoured, but I look forward to brush up further on these which I have gotten decently adept in, and also learn some more new ones. West Coast Swing, NY-style salsa (I currently know only know LA and cuban style), tango and perhaps even ballet are some on my wishlist - realistically I may not have the time to try all of them, but let's see. 

I'm a little shame-faced to confess that there was a period of three years or so where I put my interest in dance aside for a relationship - to be fair, the partner never demanded that I did so, I just chose to do that since he didn't have the interest to try it and I didn't want to sacrifice our time together for that. Foolish it may be, but returning to dance when the relationship ended gave me so much pleasure and happiness that I know I will never forsake dance again, now that I have fully embraced it as a part of me. :)

8. Setting targets and achieving them: of marathons, dance performances, being a pub singer, challenging sports and culinary adventures
It's true that when you set yourself an end-goal that are "just out of your reach" challenging your limitations, it helps sharpen your focus and also learn things about yourself that you never knew you could achieve. I'm not sure if the education system I went through, of regular assessments and examinations had honed that inclination in me, but I do enjoy setting these targets for both my strengths and weaknesses, and the process of working towards these goals. Thanks to that, I have clocked two full marathons without suffering too much during and after them, participated in three dance performances (two salsa and one contemporary/jazz), did a short stint of singing part-time in a pub in my leisure time, picked up tennis and cycling (both sports I truly sucked at) actually enjoy them now, and learnt to make my own granola, chocolate mousse and a variety of Asian and international cuisine. Each of these came with its unique set of difficulties to overcome, but the satisfaction from achieving them was simply immense.

9. Self-awareness: of learning, character development and acceptance
I'd like to think I know myself pretty well (it's really an introvert thing lah - we spend so much time in introspection because we are fascinated with the inner workings of our brain), but in the last nine years I felt like my relationship with myself had make some pretty spectacular leaps. 

I'd continued to quench my ever-present thirst to acquire more skills and knowledge - besides some of the things I'd already listed above (dance and sports), I learnt how to drive (pride: manual okay, no automatic license for me), and am currently learning a new language. I've also invested more time in learning more about career and personal development, acquiring more skills to excel or be more efficient in my profession.

On character development, I've learnt some hard lessons on how important it is to have the genuine belief in yourself - that you are meant for and deserve greater things - even if you think you are not there yet, or not exactly ready. Have the faith, take a leap. What's the worst that can happen? You trip, you fumble, but you will get there, and each stumble only makes you better. Learn that the first step to making others believe you can do something, is the conviction that you can do it yourself. It's ok not to have things handed to you on a platter, it's brilliant to have to work to achieve everything you wanted - it just proves that you have earned every single accolade by your own efforts, and that is something to be proud of. 

Last but perhaps most importantly, I have learnt to be comfortable in my own skin. I used to covert that waif-like, stick thin body that I could never achieve. However, I now love what I have, curves and edges. My aspirations are now geared towards always becoming the better version of what I am capable of at the moment. To have flexibility, strength and definition is attractive to me, not looking fragile and lithe. Well, not anymore. That is not to say that those born with a spectacular metabolism, or voluptuous curves are not attractive though - I admire all body types, I just recognise (or accept) that those are not for me.


Phew, and that concludes my summary. Quite a lengthy post, but at least we are now more or less caught up. It was actually tremendous fun reflecting on the past years for this post. I am suddenly filled with admiration for myself at how much I have done. LOL.

A girlfriend once used the word "passion" to describe me, when asked to come up with one definitive adjective. I was so flattered, and she was so right - for that's what I strive to do - live with passion. I hope I never lose that zest for life, and only get better at it. :)

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